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Camellia Grill

626 South Carrollton, New Orleans, LA - (504) 866-9573
Posted By Michael Stern on August 12, 2004 12:49 PM
For a real feast for all the senses away from the French Quarter take the St. Charles street car line to Camellia Grill. This trip to a great New Orleans institution includes an architectural tour as “the car” moseys past fabulous houses, mansions and Audubon Park. Jump off at Carrollton Avenue near the end of the line. Just across the street is The Camellia Grill, with its white columns and pink neon sign. Inside you will find 29 seats at a serpentine counter staffed by friendly, white-coated waiters and cooks at open grills.

While there is no one signature dish, the Chef Special omelet is a real house specialty: bacon, ham, onion, Swiss and American cheeses and French fries all held together with lighter than air eggs whipped in a blender. This concoction is cooked on a flat grill, gently folded and then blanketed with a most delicious, rich chili. Finally, the plate is crowned with French fries and delivered piping hot. The chili is almost a necessary anchor to this dish as this omelet is so light and fluffy it could otherwise float away.

For a beverage choice, the orange freeze, is another house specialty. Available in several other flavors, the orange freeze is quickly blended using orange juice, simple syrup, ice and French vanilla ice cream. Its texture is neither that of a shake nor a slushy. It is light and almost frothy…and the flavor is delicate, not too sweet, so it is a great accompaniment to a meal.

Camellia Grill is known not only for its breakfast served all day, but also for its sandwiches. A simple hamburger (dressed, of course, which is New Orleans speak for mayonnaise, chopped lettuce, tomato and pickle) or grilled cheese with bacon is elevated to gourmet delight, especially when paired with an order of chili cheese fries.

Plan carefully or you may not have room for dessert. Camellia Grill’s include a variety of pies: pecan, chocolate pecan, apple, and several cream pies. The pecan pie, in particular, isn’t any average, run- of-the-mill pie. Not only is the pie itself first-rate, but the fact that they grill it in butter before topping it with a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream makes this special treat. The grilling results in an intensified flavor of the buttery crust.

Don’t be surprised is there is a line of eager, hungry diners. You will find an eclectic mix of locals, tourists, and students from nearby Tulane University, just blocks away. It’s definitely worth the wait.

-- Review submitted by Marlene Bellis and Philip Roth, aka, tsores.
5 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Robert Sitckney on August 4, 2013 1:01 PM
Camellia Grill has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. The food is still excellent and I would rate the restaurant as excellent or one of the best based on food alone. But, there are other aspects to the restaurant that have fallen in recent years - primarily the level of service/professionalism of the wait staff and, most disappointing and troubling, the overall cleanliness of the restaurant itself. This is why I can only rate it good at this point.

The counter and the grill, all of which is open and in view, had a history of being immaculate and spotless. This is no longer the case. The walls behind the grill are streaked with layers of grease and grime. The long slow decline of professionalism and cleanliness began when the restaurant's founder, Jimmy Schwartz, retired and his son Michael took over. It has accelerated since it was purchased by Hicham Kodhr post-Katrina.

It pains me to say this, but at this point, the issues of cleanliness are overtaking the appeal of the food, which is still outstanding. If you can close your eyes to that, the Camellia Special (Turkey, Ham, Swiss Cheese, and Russian Dressing on Rye) is outstanding, as are the Chili Cheese Omelets (nobody makes an omelet as well as Camellia Grill), and the cheese-burgers. The freezes (Mocha w/ Ice Cream in particular) are great. It may sound weird to say it, but the toast is also a standout - it is included with the egg dishes but nowadays you have to ask for it multiple times to actually get it (an example of the decline in the professionalism of the wait staff - and I'm not referring to an isolated incident).

One standout among the waiters is Vincent Earl. Vincent has been at Camellia Grill on and off since the early 1980's. He was trained by Harry Tervalon and "Bat" - two of the original waiters who came to work at Camellia - as did many of the waiters and cooks - after working in the dining cars on trains after World War II. Those guys understand service and took exceptional pride in what they did. The white jackets that they wore were always pressed and spotless (unfortunately, many of the waiters now wear jackets that look like they haven't been washed for weeks). Vincent still subscribes to that original model of service and professionalism and it is a joy to sit at his counter. Unfortunately, he only works Friday and Saturday nights now. But if you go to the Grill, go when Vincent is there and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

I still go to Camellia Grill once every month or two, but it isn't the same place that it was.
2 star rating
Overall Rating
Chili Omelette
Pecan Pie a la Mode
Camellia Special (Sandwich)
Cheeseburger
Harry's Yankee Special - Roast Beef

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Posted By Tony Harris on October 18, 2012 3:53 PM
If you're not a local, then have patience on weekend mornings, because you will wait, but the food is worth it. If you're in the Quarter, there is a Camellia Grill there, with the same food and same helpings. Enjoy!
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Chef's Special Omelet
Breakfast Sausage
Scrambled Eggs
Coffee
Pancakes

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Posted By Richard Moore on July 19, 2011 7:05 PM
We ate several times at the Chartres Street location during our recent trip to New Orleans: a late breakfast/lunch, a "normal" breakfast, and a late-night treat. All were excellent and satisfying.

Their muffuletta is better than the more famous ones served elsewhere. But for a real treat try the pecan pie, warmed on the flattop grill! We've been assured by a cabbie that the original location is even better.
0 star rating
Overall Rating
Pecan Pie a la Mode
Chef's Special Omelet
Coffee
Gumbo

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Posted By Jim Dudlicek on January 12, 2011 1:13 PM
The Camellia Grill has a location on Chartres in the French Quarter, too. We stumbled across it by accident on our way to Central Grocery (where we finally made it the next day for our muffaletta fix). It was a 15-or-so-minute wait for counter space, but it was worth it, not just for the food, but for the joyous interaction between the cooks and the wait staff.

The Chef's Special omelet was fantastic, and washed down with a chocolate-cherry freeze, it couldn't be beat. The Camellia Grill was a surprise highlight of our latest trip to NOLA.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Chef's Special Omelet
Chocolate-cherry freeze

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Posted By Derek Freeman on May 15, 2010 5:44 PM
This is a must-stop in New Orleans. Friendly, quirky staff and patrons. It is definitely worth the wait. People in line were discussing what the must-eat dish is and it seemed to be the omelets. The portions are huge so unless you are hungry, plan to share. If you are doing New Orleans the right way, you are probably NOT hungry because you've been sampling the many other restaurants in the city.

I got an omelet with bacon, Swiss, onions, and peppers, with a side of grits. Definitely go for the grits, not only are they delicious, but you can get fries anywhere. The menu says grits are not available after 11am but there was two full pots on at noon.

My wife got a pecan waffle. This is a must-eat. We split the omelet and waffle, but I could have gone for more waffle (and more cowbell, of course).

The coffee is pretty good as well, not your standard diner-fare.

A girl next to me got the Chef's Special omelet, smothered in chili. She said the chili was good, but the overall dish was a little too overbearing (or overwhelming--don't remember the exact word she used, but I knew what she meant). I didn't order it because I thought this may be the case.

The price was extremely reasonable. Our bill was around $17 for what we ordered, and I figure it is about the same that we would have paid at Denny's. So be sure to tip well because the staff is GENUINELY KIND AND FUNNY. The staff seem very genuine and really make you feel like they want you to enjoy your dining experience.

As far as my overall rating, I'm new to Roadfood and I can't say I'm a fan of the rating system based on miles you would travel to go to a particular establishment. In a city like New Orleans everything is within close proximity, so it is hard to say I would travel 100+ miles to go to this restaurant alone. I guess I wouldn't travel to New Orleans JUST for THIS restaurant, BUT if you are in NOLA, you need to go here. I don't think the rating system reflects that, if that makes any sense. Camellia Grill is a must-eat, even if you are here for a weekend. It is definitely at the top of my list for a breakfast joint in New Orleans. The omelets are better than average, the Pecan Waffles are outstanding, and the atmosphere is also what makes the place a must-visit.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Pecan Waffle

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